Classics Every Middle Schooler Should Read

Classics for Middle School Reading

I recently read Winston Churchill’s little volume Painting as a Pastime. Before he gets to the what and why of painting, he describes reading and the unique power books hold. They contain, he says, an

“infinitely varied store of knowledge and wisdom which the human race has accumulated and preserved, pride, even in its most innocent forms, is chased from the heart by feelings of awe not untinged with sadness.”

Then Churchill gets really depressing by encouraging us to think of all the books we’ll never have time for and all the tales we will never know. Books are treasures. Churchill writes,

“Peer into [books]. Let them fall open where they will. Read on from the first sentence that arrests the eye. Then turn to another. Make a voyage of discovery, taking soundings of uncharted seas. Set them back on their shelves with your own hands.

While there is (sadly) not enough time to read every book ever written, don’t waste your time on worthless ones. This list contains classics — books that expound the universal themes of life, have stood the test of time, have to be read carefully and studied, and make you think. 

You cannot make your child love reading. If you have a child who doesn’t enjoy reading, you can expose them to best books by reading aloud and taking the voyage of discovery alongside them.

This list is designed with middle school students in mind (don’t forget to check out our high school list). Although it isn’t exhaustive, these are some of my top recommendations and personal favorites from my own middle school homeschooling years:

Julius Caesar

William Shakespeare

The Hobbit

J. R. R. Tolkien

Uncle Tom’s Cabin**

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Around the World in Eighty Days

Jules Verne

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Arthur Conan Doyle

A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens

Peter Pan

J.M. Barrie

Little Women

Louisa May Alcott

Anne of Green Gables

L.M. Montgomery

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

Elizabeth George Speare

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight**

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn*

Mark Twain

The Odyssey

Homer

The Chronicles of Narnia

C.S. Lewis

All Quiet on the Western Front*

Erich Remarque

Autobiography

Ben Franklin

The Last of the Mohicans

James Fenimore Cooper

Pilgrim’s Progress

John Bunyan

The Scarlet Letter

Nathaniel Hawthorne

My Antonia

Willa Cather

Animal Farm

George Orwell

To Kill a Mockingbird**

Harper Lee

Beowulf*

Translated by Seamus Heaney

Robinson Crusoe

Daniel Defoe

Poems

George Herbert

Sonnets

William Shakespeare

Treasure Island

Robert Louis Stevenson

The Wise Woman and Other Stories

George MacDonald

*Contains violence that may be a bit mature for some audiences

**Contains sexual content that may be a bit mature for some audiences